Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- The group of 5 General Engineering Corporation (GEC) employees on St. Eustatius are still in a limbo, when it comes to their employment status and a final resolution of their case.
According to Charles Woodley from Al For 1 Union (Af1), there is conflicting communication on the side of the employer. “GEC has changed their pior position, now saying they are willing to offer new temporary contracts to these employees out of humanitarian consideration”.
According to Woodley however, the employees in question are still employed under their current employment contracts which were never legally terminated.
Woodley said that Af1 had also approached government commissioners Van Rij and Francis for mediation in the matter. Although the government commissioners promised to contact the employer, not much progress has been made so far.
Woodley stated that, although he understood that the present Corona crisis had the two Government Commissioners busy, the situation of the employees was dire and urgent too.
The GEC employees find themselves between a rock and a hard place, as their employers has assumed the position that, since they were not rewarded any new contract by GTI, they have ‘nothing to do’ for the employees left on St. Eustatius.
GEC from their side states that, as their contract was terminated by GTI, the employees had to return to their ‘own’ country, but had instead elected to stay on the island, with the subsequent consequence of now being stranded on the island, since all borders are closed for travel.
Woodley on the other hand said his union was insisting that the employees in question be treated correct and fair. “Other subcontractors whose contract at GTI was not renewed have correctly terminated the working relationships and paid the involved employees all salaries and fringe benefits due, as stipulated in their contract or in local labor law”.
Woodley previously said he was irked by GEC’s refusal to handle matters according to normal labor stipulations. “We can understand if they have no work to do a GTI, but at least pay these people all they are entitled to, so that they also can move on”.
According to Woodley the group in question possesses sufficient skills to be able to find new employment on the island, but that as long as their current employer (GEC) did not handle matters according to the law and according to what’s morally correct, he was advising the employees to stay put and fight for their rights.